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Despite their brazen defacements of government websites in the name of website security and netizens' rights, the Filipino hacker community has been strangely silent over the biggest issue yet confronted by online Pinoys: the newly-enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act.
It has been more than a week since the law was enacted on September 12, but the Filipino hacker community has not issued any statements —in the form of either a collective manifesto or a high-profile website defacement— on the matter. The law specifically penalizes the "illegal access to a computer system" with six to 12 years imprisonment and/or a fine of at least P200,000, with a harsher penalty for attacks on "critical infrastructure."
Local hackers' actions
On September 17, one of the more prominent local hacker groups, PrivateX, claimed credit for hacking the DOH website. In June this year, the group gained notoriety for defacing seven government websites in protest of the Anti-Hacking Bill, the precursor of the Cybercrime Prevention Act. But, according to PrivateX, the recent defacement had nothing to do with the Cybercrime Act: "nakakalungkot pero sin tax = corruption," read the message left behind by the hacker.
On the other hand, another local group, the Philker Developer Network, posted just a very brief comment regarding the new law on its Facebook page:
"In the midst of issue of the RH bill (sic), here comes a new law that MAY RESTRICT our freedom of expression under Chapter II Section IV C 1 & 4... I condemn these provisions and it should be amended with proper guidance from the IT sector," said the group's administrator, "n1tr0b", on September 18.
The post only garnered four "likes" and zero comments in two days.
However, a source with ties to the community replied to GMA News Online's request for comment that "they're working on it" but was unable to provide further details. "Those who are proud to show off their skill publicly like during the recent ROOTCON Security Conference to share their knowledge and help warn the public for a good cause, are the good ones," added another source closely connected to the local hacker community.
Far from Anonymous
In any case, the continuing silence of the Filipino hacking community over the new law is a far cry from the snowballing denunciations coming from media organizations, press freedom advocates, and bloggers alike.
The Filipino hackers' silence is also in contrast to the modus operandi of Anonymous International, the infamous "hacktivist" group that some local hackers claim to be affiliated with.
Earlier this year, when the United States moved to pass the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) —seen by many observers to restrict netizens' basic rights, foreshadowing the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act— Anonymous showed solidarity with other protesters by "blacking out" its official Twitter account (@AnonymousIRC) and by conducting cyberattacks on entities supportive of the Act.
Anonymous is well-known for its lengthy and clearly-worded manifestos versus government measures that it sees as impinging on people's rights, even as it is notorious for its high-profile cyberattacks in protest of those same measures.
Meanwhile, the Filipino hacking community has conducted repeated hits on local government websites (such as the DOH and the PNRI), clamoring for better website security.
Although the larger international Anonymous community has never officially disowned its supposed counterparts in the Philippines, neither has the latter been officially recognized nor mentioned in any of Anonymous International's public despatches. — GMA News